Obama: Sanders made Clinton a better candidate
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President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaObama marks MLK Day by honoring King for his 'poetic brilliance' and 'moral clarity' Biden breaks away from 2020 pack in South Carolina National Archives says it altered Trump signs, other messages in Women's March photo MORE commended Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders apologizes to Biden for supporter's op-ed Jayapal: 'We will end up with another Trump' if the US doesn't elect progressive Former health insurance executive: Current system is bankrupting country MORE for his presidential campaign, both for its impact on voters and his rival Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocratic debates are magnet for lobbyists NYT editorial board endorses Warren, Klobuchar for Democratic nomination for president Sanders v. Warren is just for insiders MORE.

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During an appearance on "The Tonight Show" with Jimmy Fallon taped Wednesday, Obama called the heated primary "a healthy thing for the Democratic Party." 

"I thought that Bernie Sanders brought enormous energy and new ideas. And he pushed the party and challenged them. I thought it made Hillary a better candidate," he said.

Obama, who is not expected to make a formal endorsement of Clinton until after he meets with Sanders at the White House Thursday, nontheless praised his former secretary of State.

"I think she is whip smart. She is tough. And she deeply cares about working people and putting kids through school and making sure we're growing our economy," he said.

Obama said it's normal for there to be lingering tensions at the end of a tough primary, as there were between him and Clinton in 2008.

"My hope is, is that over the next couple of weeks, we're able to pull things together. And what happens during primaries, you get a little ouchy. Everybody does," he said.